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First passenger flight from South Africa to St Helena lands safely

St HelenaThe maiden flight of an Airlink Airlines service from Johannesburg in South Africa to St Helena Island took off over the weekend. On Saturday, sixty passengers were on board for the six hour flight to one of the loneliest and most attractive places on earth.

The return flight from St Helena left on Sunday. Airlink notes that flights in each direction will operate once weekly and call at Windhoek in Namibia. The airline is utilising Embraer E190 aircraft configured for 76 passengers to fly the route.

St Helena governor Lisa Phillips was on hand to greet the arriving passengers. She told reporters the service would make the island more accessible for tourists and this would in turn improve living standards for the 4,000 islanders. Economic development officer Niall O’Keeffe was just as upbeat and said the flights would put St Helena on the tourism trail.

Lying in the South Atlantic Ocean, St Helena is a British Overseas Territory and around 1,200 miles from the shores of Namibia and Africa. Its only public transport link with the outside world for the best part of the last three decades has been the RMS St Helena.

The RMS St Helena takes five days to sail between Cape Town and St Helena before continuing to an even more remote destination, Ascension Island. The ship docks in St Helena an average of once every two weeks. When the St Helena is taken out of service early in 2018, the Airlink service will be the island’s only scheduled transport connection.

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